Stab Magazine | The Long, Strange Tale of California's Surf Nazis

The Long, Strange Tale of California’s Surf Nazis

“When I set out to become a surfer, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into…”

news // Oct 1, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Many surfers don’t like to admit it, some surfers will rage against the very notion, but the truth is that history of our beloved hobby is awash in racism.

We indulge in it at our worst, merely benefit from it at our best. Plug our ears and pretended it’s nowhere near..

That the ocean is impartial, and so are we, is a filthy lie. One which Daniel Duane strips bare in today’s New York Times.

Do you know Berkeley-born writer Daniel Duane? Old DD authored of one of the better works of Surf Fiction (Caught Inside), as well as a prolific series for Men’s Health titled “How [insert male star’s name here] Got These [Insert Descriptive Adjective ie: Insane!] Abs.  But we digress. 

Today, the middle-aged Northern California writer dropped a bomb in the NYT Magazine, regarding the historical appropriation of swastikas and Nazi slogans, salutes, etc., as well as the shameful racism of some of the pillars of Southern California surf culture.

Here’s a sample:

For 30 years, I’ve enjoyed the satori-like flow-state that comes with gliding on a pulse of wave energy, watching bottlenose dolphins silhouetted black by the setting sun as it melts red into the blue horizon. I’ve built my work schedule around being free whenever the draining tide and long-period swell line up with easterly wind. I’ve written a book about surfing, lived in the Surfer magazine house in Hawaii, binged on surf movies and chased waves in Iceland, the Galápagos, West Africa and elsewhere.

As a passionate student of surf culture and history, though, I’ve also seen a lot more swastikas…

So there’s that. 

Duane goes on to make the case for Miki Dora—”our very own Elvis, the last word in coastal cool. Handsome and criminally dishonest…”—as Nazi sympathizer and outright White Supremacist.

According to the book “All for a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora,” by David Rensin, Dora often used racial slurs and advised acquaintances to put all their money in gold before Mexicans and blacks poured over the borders and ruined the economy. While serving prison time, Dora (who had been convicted of both check and credit-card fraud) wrote to a friend that he loved American Nazis. Dora eventually relocated to apartheid-era South Africa.

He paints Dale Velzy as being soft on Fascism—“We’d paint a swastika on something for no other reason than to piss people off. Which it did. So next time we’d paint two swastikas, just to piss ’em off more”—though Velzy’s retelling of Dora’s time in Apartheid South Africa paints him more favorably. 

The famed surfboard designer Dale Velzy told Mr. Rensin that he recalled Dora boasting, in that period: “I have a black man who wakes me up in the morning, gives me my orange juice, gives me my robe, carries my board to the beach. Everybody ought to live in Africa. I have a coolie for everything I do. Everyone should own a coolie.” In a later letter, as the anti-apartheid movement grew, Dora wrote that black South Africans were “flesh-eaters,” adding, “Give these guys the rights and you’ll get white-man jerky for export.”

Nat Young, world surfing champion in 1966 and 1970, knew Dora. As Young told an interviewer: “Dora’s take is push the black man under. He’s a supreme racist, always has been. When I was younger, I believed it was all just in mirth, that he was just jivin’ it all; but no, he believes absolutely in white supremacy.

You can read the entire article HERE.


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